EDITORIAL: SOFI, so good for PoCo costs

Thank you to the city of Port Coquitlam for deciding to post council expenses online so its residents can keep an eye on the important activities of government.

By posting monthly instead of yearly its statement of financial information (SOFI), PoCo is contributing to openness and transparency, and eliminating a cause for doubt and uncertainty among members of the public.

Sure, spending reports can make for dull reading. But they open a window on the activities of the mayor and councillors, and some will be judged on whether they spend money wisely or how active they are in the community they serve.

The upside for politicians will be, hopefully, greater appreciation of the jobs they do. And when people know what their politicians are up to, they might actually get out and vote for them once in awhile.

Now, not all expenses are good expenses and more than one politician — perhaps even a senator or two — has sipped costly orange juice at the public’s expense. And while PoCo’s online expenses won’t tell the whole story (food bills don’t appear to be separated out, for example), they will offer some insight.

Still, we should all keep in mind that with so much focus on the comparably small sums, it’s easy to take one’s eye off the big picture. Too often, we follow the pennies instead of holding governments to account for the way they spend millions.

Will PoCo’s decision at the finance and intergovernmental committee to open up its SOFI books rock the world? No, but it’s one small step towards more open government, and one we both look forward to and applaud.



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